Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues


A freight train out of town.  Cold hands.  Head stuffed up with sleep and lack of sleep and why am I up so early with the morning fog along the tracks.  Skip James tune in my head, just a few lines obsessively repeating in my head. There’s a girl that I left behind and we’re in a state where things are not exactly clear.  But that’s far away and I shove it aside.

There’s a guy who walks around downtown with his chest out, a white guy, sauntering, no, swaggering, who barks at people.  Literally, like a dog.  The other day he walked around with a ski mask, gruff voice growling “Give me yer change.”

I feel like that now, fuzzy headed.  I thought my coffee cup had reached the bottom, but when I looked I’d apparently already filled it up again.  Where was I?  Am I living my life that way?  I’ll hear rumors of things I’ve done, places I’ve been?

“If I can ever get up off of this hard killin’ floor, I’ll never get down this low no mo’.”

If you ask me how I am, I’ll say, “Really fucking well.”  And I’ll mean it.  But when I have a free moment, I can’t remember what I am supposed to do.  When I’m still, I’m lost.

This trainyard is full of the haziness of the unknown, the unanswered question.  But on a rolling freight, a boxcar empties of all that as it reaches speed.  The clang of metal on metal.  The clack of wheels on ribbon rail.  The rolling smack of slack action.  The sun shines even if it’s night.  Even if it is raining.  Even if it’s cold as shit.  My memories look like that.  The trainyard always full of morning mist, my hands cold.  The rolling stock flooded with brilliant sunshine.  In motion, I’m found.

There are things that can only exist in empty spaces.  In the widest desert vistas.  The mountain valley above the treeline.  The rundown abandoned part of town.  Space to create.  Space to think.

Meanwhile, I hear I do stuff.  Rumors.  Stories.  Interesting things.  I read old letters that talk of things I no longer remember.  Yesterday, I overheard a conversation referring to what I did the day before.  I had no recollection.    I heard I fell in love.  What became of that?

Caspian had the words wrong, but I like his version better.  Bleak, but maybe real.  And is that the way it is?  Is that the way it’ll be?  But there’s no exercise in philosophy like looking for hope in the blues.  His version: If I ever get off of this killin’ floor, I’ll never get off of this killin’ floor.

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